Friday, 7 November 2014

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Borderlands series. I thought the first game was pretty great, but since then the series has been steadily going downhill first starting with Borderlands 2, it's various (and many!) DLC packs, and the recent lacklustre PS Vita port of Borderlands 2. Though Borderlands has never really offered up any new ideas when it comes to the FPS genre, the main problem since Borderlands 2 has been the writing. This disappointing trend not only continues with this latest release, but it also pushes it to new levels of failure. Borderlands is kind of like that friend that's funny at first, but then starts to grate on everyone over time. The kind of annoying friend that seems to just hang around, because as annoying as he is you just don't have the heart to tell him like it is. Well, it's about time someone told off that friend, eh?

Developed by Gearbox Software and out now on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC comes Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, another notch on Gearbox Software's bedpost of utter cock-ups that also includes Aliens: Colonial Marines and Duke Nukem Forever. However, Gearbox's apparent attempt to make another game that is a massive pile of shit has somewhat succeed, as The Pre-Sequel! falls into the “meh” category, as it's a game that destined for bargain bins and “Isn't that just DLC?” status. The game takes place after the original Borderlands and before Borderlands 2, and recounts the rise to power of Handsome Jack, Borderlands 2's antagonist. Once again focusing on 4 various Vault Hunters, the action in The Pre-Sequel! takes place on Pandora's moon Elpis. Marketed as a standalone title, The Pre-Sequel! is essentially just a long piece of DLC.

The best part of The Pre-Sequel!- as with all other Borderlands titles -are the 4 Vault Hunters you'll take control of. First there's Athena, a female warrior that wields an attack absorbing shield, a mercenary named Wilhelm who is flanked by two drones, Nisha the gun slinger of the group, and lastly Claptrap, the fan favourite of the series, and now finally playable. Each character plays rather differently, but the first problem with The Pre-Sequel! is the fact that it's mostly the same as Borderlands 2, perhaps save for a few extra bells and whistles like low-gravity combat. But it's business as usual here as you'll shoot shit up, discover copious amounts of loot, listen to almost every second line of dialogue trying to be a joke and, of course, upgrade a vast array of weapons which are genuinely impressive. But at it's heart it's essentially just Borderlands 2 with low-gravity, the ability to play as Claptrap, and a main story that is as tedious as it is boring. Granted Handsome Jack was and still is possibly the best character of the entire series, but he isn't enough to save The Pre-Sequel!

The writing bloody grates on me too. Borderlands 2 relied heavily on internet memes for some of its gags. Internet memes belong on the internet, but Borderlands 2 dragged them kicking and screaming to our TVs. It didn't work at all, but while The Pre-Sequel! doesn't change its approach in humour somewhat, it's still so smug, snarky and self aware that all it needs is a cup of Starbucks to gain entry into Hipster Heaven. It stinks of something written for the Twitter generation, or Snapchat, or Facebook or whatever the kids are wasting their time on now instead of gaming. It amounts to a game that just annoyed me to no end, and comes across like it was written by the guys who made The Cleveland Show. Remember that show? Yeah, neither do I! The Pre-Sequel! is just like The Cleveland Show- it's the hugely unfunny spin-off of an already tired franchise.

Overall I'm sure die hard fans of the franchise will enjoy it. And you know what? More power to you, my friends! But personally it's not only too similar than to what came before it, but it also managed to pester me in ways even Borderlands 2 couldn't achieve. It may not be another Aliens: Colonial Marines or Duke Nukem Forever, but it certainly isn't anything to write home about.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! has no life support system and gets a 2/5.


Denis Murphy

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! at CeX

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